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"The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt." - John Philpot Curran


Deputizing Civilians

The economic downturn has affected the nation's police departments -- and they're turning to civilians for help. From USA Today:
    Facing tighter budgets, law enforcement agencies across the country are increasingly turning to civilians to respond to some calls that sworn officers and deputies are usually responsible for.

    That means people calling 911 to report a traffic accident, a burglarized home or a stolen car may be greeted by a civilian in a polo shirt instead of a gun-toting officer.

    "It hasn't been universally adopted throughout the country. But most areas have at least thought about the alternative and are more open to it now because of the economy," said Richard Brady, president of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Matrix Consulting Group that has worked with more than 250 law enforcement agencies.

    The idea of using civilians, who require less training and are less expensive than sworn officers, to respond to minor police calls has been around since the late 1980s.

    Brady said the practice died off for years as the economy improved and departments were augmented after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
I wonder if law enforcement advocates are thinking this through. If this proves to be effective, police departments may have even more trouble getting extra money in the future.

Hmmmm. I guess that would mean fewer Tasers, machine guns, tanks, SWAT teams, midnight raids... Yes, I'm inclined to think that this is a good thing.

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Blogger Ryan S. said...

It's probably likely that they would develop classifications of incidents and certain low-profile incidents like fender-bender accidents and disturbance calls would be initially responded to by civilian cops. It's cheaper and more efficient. They should have done this a long time ago. Better yet, use part-time good samaritans who are in another line of work.

4/1/08, 5:30 PM  
Blogger BadTux said...

If you look at the amount of money budgeted for the American police state today vs., say, for public health, what you'll find is that we have the largest per-capita police state on the planet, with roughly one cop or prison guard per 100 citizens. As with the Delhi Lama's rule of Tibet, this is not sustainable long-term (over 50% of the Tibetan economy was being sucked up by the lamasaries before the whole thing collapsed in 1950 in a series of slave uprisings followed by a Chinese invasion to restore public order -- the reason the Tibetan Army did not resist the Chinese invasion was because they had their hands full trying to put down a nationwide slave uprising, yes, 70% of Tibet's population were slaves in 1950, one of the little truths that the Delhi Lama tries to hide from people). This seems more like a desperation move in the face of an economically unsustainable system than a way to reduce costs. When 50% of the budget of the State of California is going to prisons and police...

That said, I don't expect one less dollar to be spent on tasers, riot squads, SWAT teams, etc. Our rulers are terrified that we will rise up and give them the lynchings they so richly deserve, and thus will do whatever it takes to maintain the capabilities of their own private armies (called "police forces" here in the United States, but they essentially serve as the private militias of our rulers). I expect SWAT teams and such to get *more* funding over the next few years as the U.S. economy collapses into an economic depression on par with the Great Depression. After all, how else will our rulers put down the food riots that will inevitably result when unemployment is 60%?

- Badtux the Cynical Penguin

4/2/08, 12:18 PM  

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